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PRO

Do you provide quotes or estimates?

Hi 

I set up a landscape gardening business in August 2010.  I undertake both landscape construction and tidy up work.  I have found that when pricing for tidy up work its easy to provide a fixed quotation.  

For landscaping work I would like to offer the same method as knowing the material cost and amounts are relatively easy to quantify.  However the labour duration is more difficult as this depends on many factors.  For example ground conditions, hidden obstacles and other factors out with your control. 

How do other members provide pricing for landscaping- by quotations, estimates or a combination of both? 

Any advice on this would be appreciated.

Cheers

Colin

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Replies

  • With experience you will become more accurate at estimating how long it will take but for big landscaping jobs your best just to give an estimate rather than a quote. For example, if your doing a long fence you could be digging into sandy soil or you could be digging into pure stone!

  • PRO


    Yes I agree with that.  I am confident that with time estimating landscape works will improve with experience, by learning from mistakes and past performances.  Although will estimating for work produce a smaller margin for profit? I guess there has to be a balance between getting it right to make a good profit and getting it wrong and losing potentially out.

     

     

     

     

     

    I will need to set out some sort of

    Auld said:

    With experience you will become more accurate at estimating how long it will take but for big landscaping jobs your best just to give an estimate rather than a quote. For example, if your doing a long fence you could be digging into sandy soil or you could be digging into pure stone!

  • PRO

    Gary-

    Thats a fair comment.  If a contractor quotes for works and the project takes longer than planned then yes it would be unfair on the customer pay for extra labour.   When writing a quote is it a case of writing a specific list of tasks required to undertake the work whilst stating in the T&C's that any extra tasks or unforeseen problems are chargable? (written in a good way of course!!)

    Gary @ Acer Paving & Landscaping said:

    Personally, it's a fixed price quotation every time.

    I know some members mention estimates from time to time and equally I cannot undesratnd that at all.

    As a professional landscaper you/we should be able to quote for any job, people are warned against estimates all the time because they are worthless.

    If you are that unsure about a particular job then you probably shouldn't be pricing it in the first place.

    If I said to you I estimate your garden build will cost £3000 all it is is an educated guess. I can come back to you after the job is complete and say, "there were a few unforseen difficulties and we used more stone than I estimated can I have £4000 please ?" - What's that all about ? It has rogue written all over it !

    Hidden obstacles labour durations and the like are a contractors responsibility and risk in my view. Some you win, some you lose. The more experienced you get the less you lose !

    It's the only way to learn, if you underestimate the labour why should the customer pay ?

    I reckon over 95% of our jobs remain at the same fixed price that we quoted, the only time it differs is if the customer changes the requirements when we are on site and if they do that I agree the cost implications before we proceed.

    By the way, none of the above comments are aimed at you or anyone else specifically, it's a general observation and represents my own view on what a professional contractor should do.

  • I would of thought it very hard to get work on an estimating basis, especially with all the rogue trader type programmes, I too think that its only really experience that will help you out on this one.

    I personally have never given out estimates, only ever quotations.

  • I had a similar issue when pricing up earlier this year, but have since learned to look at how long it would take me based on experience of similar jobs. I then add 10-15% to cover for surprises (over and above markup and overheads), and have a good look at the area to see what to expect. If I know something is going to be there I add it in to the cost - eg tree roots/ rocks while digging, Compacted earth in the area etc.

     

    Just this week, while digging for a path, I came across some lovely dressed stone... that turned out to be a buried wall foundation - that was my surprise for the job!

     

    As everyone has said, with time you get more accurate - I look back at quotes from earlier this year and wonder how I Didn't add in for the inevitable surprises!

  • I will add something this in that when did a lot of turfing some years ago, I never had a fixed price per yard for the first year, but one day decided to look at all the turfing jobs that i had done and I could quite plainly see that it had worked out to a consistant average per yard without me aiming for it to.  purely by luck .

  • I agree about the comments regarding estimates and quotations.

     

    We only provide quotations which along with our Safe Trader status really sets us apart from most of the competition - customers comment on it time and time again.

     

  • fixed quotations are the only way to go of and course as said previously there needs to be a small increase to allow for problems, this increase is quite often when experinced your major profit margin.

    I can understand the reasons for estimating especially for those new to the game, as this is how I started but it did'nt take long for me to learn that the customers are very wary and few jobs were won.

    What is the average daily rate for landscaping these days? I'm looking to put mine up in the new year to cover the VAT increase are you all doing the same?



    Donny Bryan said:

    I agree about the comments regarding estimates and quotations.

     

    We only provide quotations which along with our Safe Trader status really sets us apart from most of the competition - customers comment on it time and time again.

     

  • some good points above, if i had work done i wouldnt want to be suddenly stung with a billthat was higher than "estimated" as a point i estimate for myself then i type it into a fixed price quote and i have a small footnote that says quote valid for 60 days and any changes to the specifications of the materials may incur extra charge.

     

    if i go over on labour then thats just tough! i learn for next time.

     

    Donny Bryan, does that safe trader scheme only apply to lancashire or can us midlanders sign up

  • something that i find helps probably as the safer trader is being a member of the guild of master craftsmen.

     

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